'For money', wrote Balzac, 'people fight and devour one another like spiders in a pot'. In "House of All Nations", the pot is an exclusive private European bank, and the spiders are a rich mixture of high-stakes gamblers, tax evaders, and shady speculators, all united by their love of money. They burn for it, hunger for it, and indeed would sell their souls for it had they souls to sell. Leading them on the chase is the cynical and mercurial director of the bank, Jules Bertillon, for whom every political or natural disaster is a potential shower of gold. Bertillon is a master of the devious maneuver, and his clients trust and even love him for it. In the end, he is the duper duped, but it is the clients who pay: for Jules, unprincipled to the last, has not been so foolish as to believe in himself. Set in the Paris of the interwar period, "House of All Nations" is a vast panoramic novel that explores the intrigues, swindles, and manipulations of international finance, exposing themes that are as relevant today as when first published in 1939.
'Combined with her Hogarthian humor, brilliant vocabulary, high-keyed imagination, the result is one of the most savage satires on 'the principle of money' since Balzac' - "Time". 'Full of rich comedy, crowded with Balzacian characters...a work of extraordinary talent' - "The New Yorker".